Monday, September 27, 2021

The history of high heels: Nightlife ABC

(Nidra Naidoo Image via ABC)

High heels have been around for centuries, and it may be a sexist stereotype, but when we think of heels, we usually think of women. Engineer Mark Bryan reveals to Indira Naidoo how the high heel trend started with men. Cameron Kippen, retired lecturer from the Department of Podiatry at the Curtin University of Technology and author of many papers on the history of footwear, reflects on why high heels and the skirts traditionally that accompany them are perceived as feminine?

Nightlife: The history of high heels Nightlife ABC

Petticoat Discipline and Mary Janes

(Boys in dresses Image via pinterest)

During Victorian and Edwardian times it as common practice in Middle and Upper Class homes to dress little boys and girls alike up until the age 5 or six. Popular outfits included beribboned vests, petticoats, girl's underwear white lace dresses, big bonnets and bows on the shoes. Prior to the Great War little boys’ hair was worn long, curled and tied with bows.

(Nancy boy Image via pinterest )

Some mothers preferred girls and continued to dress their sons as girls, long after five or six. A form of corporal punishment meted out to pubescent boys to subdue their boisterous behaviour or antisocial public display was to dress them in girls clothes and older siblings were encouraged to name call them ‘Nancy boys’ as a form of public humiliation. The practice was referred to as Petticoat Discipline and made no reference to sexual preference just a cruel means to control coming of age impulses. The practice was referred to as Petticoat Disciplin

(Cissy Boy Image via pinterest )

The very idea of a pre-pubescent drooling over girls in public was quite unacceptable in Victorian times and male masturbation and loss of semen were thought to cause poor health and insanity. If wearing female attire alone failed to curb abhorrent pubesent behaviours then more lace and ruffles were added. As part of their punishment boys were paraded in front of their family and friends who in turn were expected to demean and degrade them as part of behaviour control. Bed wetting often resulted in punishment which required boys were dressed in nappies (diapers) and baby clothes. The child was then expected to behave like a baby with Dummies (pacifiers) until they stopped wetting their beds or corrected whatever abhorrent behaviour. Older children could also expect similar treatment at public school. Naughty boys in mixed schools run by the state might have to sit in the girl’s section of the class or in some instancesbe given a dummy to suck. Mild by comparison to their public school equivalents.

(Kilty Image via twitter )

In Scotland as a punishment little boys wore kilts without a sporran. As any kilt wearer will attest a strategically placed sporran is a counter balance to the male erection. Girls kilts had a bodice and boys wore these with silk petticoats and pretty knickers. This ensured they sat in an orderly fashion when in public. The old music hall joke, “There is nothing worn under the kilt, it is all in perfect working order.” relates to the adult male and assures all “Kilty cauldbums” were all man, with no evidence of Petticoat Discipline. The term Nancy boy was commonly used to describe teenage boys dressed in frills and dresses. A letter to the Times newspaper in the 1850s quoted a woman as saying she found.

"an effective cure for my 20-year-old son 's flirting with young ladies. Since corseting him and putting him into a short kilt he was unable to look at a girl full in the eyes, let alone ogle her. I heartily recommend this from of correction."

( Anti-masterbation device Image via Metro )

Repeat offenders faced wearing leather penis cages sometimes covered with spikes to subdue erections and stop any adolescent inquisitiveness. In a less enlightened era many bright young men suffered this indignity. Under Tsar in Russia and prior to the Revolution young conscripts had wire pushed through their foreskins which were sealed with a picture of the Tsar. The habit was soon imitated and parents unable to afford a penis cage used needle and thread, instead. At one level Petticoat Discipline seemed to be an effective way to restrict uninvited boisterous behaviour.

( Suffragettes Image via Wikipedia )

At the time when Suffragettes were fighting for the vote, behind closed doors many outwardly respectable married men were made by their wives as punishment to wear petticoats whilst undertaking meanial household duties. In the process of forced feminization some males were trained to do needlework and knitting.

( Buster Brown Suits Image via pinterest )

Short tight trousered sailor suits and tunic suits (Buster brown suits) became incredibly popular at the turn of the 20th century after the publication of an American novel by Francis Hodgson Burnett (Frances Eliza Hodgson), wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886). The book was immensely popular and doting mothers across the world adopted the Fauntleroy look. Although detailed description of Cedric Erol’s (Lord Fauntleroy) suits was scant within her narrative the accompanying drawings by Reginald Birch were lavishly detailed.

(Little Lord Fauntleroy Image via Goodreads )

Cedric wore clothing based on 17th century clothing consisting of short trouser velvet suits with broad lace collars. These were the trappings of the romantic hero and little boys and girls all the world over were dressed accordingly. The unisex outfits soon were regarded by boys as sissies’ and effeminate. This might have been reinforced when Little Lord Fauntleroy was made into a film and the role of Cedric Erol was played by a pretty, curly-headed girl. The effeminate connotations of the Little Lord Fauntleroy style made it perfect for petticoating. Prior to this, Upper crust families had dressed their children in velvet sailor suits with a tailored jacked and bib or lace collar. Sometimes the outfit had a floppy blow at the collar. All this was worn with tight bloomered pants, silk stockings, and single strap shoes, eventually to be called Mary Janes.

( Boys Mary Janes Image via R2 ItaBR )

At first black was popular and the patent leather shoes were worn with white stockings or socks. The strap shoe had a strap or bar across the instep and closed the shoe upon the foot and was fastened with a button. Later buckles were used on shoe styles for smaller children because manipulating laces was difficult for small fingers. The width of the strap varied on the style of shoe and some were narrow, others had very wide straps. Later strap shoes appeared with straps which crossed the foot from the back of the shoe. Not quite as popular as the classic strap shoe but this style encouraged wearing different coloured socks. Today strap shoes have their equivalent in "T"-strap shoes or double-bar sandals. The strapped shoe became known as Mary Janes but some confusion exists as to whom Mary Jane was and why was a shoe style named after her. There are several contenders.

(Mary Jane Candy Image via pinterest )

In 1914 Charles N. Miller named a bite-size candy made from peanut butter and molasses after his favourite aunt, Mary Jane. These proved incredibly popular and sold throughout the US. However, Mary Jane shoes had little to do with the candy unless the wrapper stuck to their soles.

( Jessica Cunningham Image via pinterest)

By the early 20th century Mary Jane was a common enough name in the early and when in 1924 Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956), author of Winnie-the-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner, published a set of poems in ‘When we were young’ a rather mischievous girl called Mary Jane emerged in ‘Rice Pudding’.

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She isn’t sick and she hasn’t a pain
And it’s medication time again
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
We’ve asked her and asked her to try and explain,
But she wants to go home, we may have to restrain,
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s begging and pleading and crying again,
The poor girl’s deluded, completely insane,
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
We’ve given her therapy, shocks to the brain,
And more of that nice medication again,
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She twitches and jerks like a doll on a chain,
And still no improvement, it all seems in vain,
What can be the matter with Mary Jane?
So that is the story of Mary Jane?
She wasn’t sick and she hadn’t a pain
But now she won’t ever be quite right again,
What have we done to you Mary Jane?

The popularity of the Scots ‘, children’s’ writer may account for the why the name became even more common in the early twentieth century, but this Mary Jane was not the source of the shoes. Neither was Christopher Robin Pooh Bear’s friend who remains the best known example of boys wearing strap shoes at the turn of the century.

(Mary Jane Image via Katia Rocha )

The inspiration Mary Jane shoes (strap shoes) was a little girl who appeared in an early comic strip in The New York Herald (1902) The comic strip was called Buster Brown and created and drawn by Richard Fenton Outcault. Buster was a charmingly and likable young fellow who had everyday adventures. He was similar to Little Lord Fauntleroy is dress and custom but a little livelier. The Buster Brown comic strip was as well known in the US in the early 1900s as Homer Simpson is today. The comic strip ran until 1921 in one guise or another and may have inspired kiddie buddy moves including the films of the Young Rascals and the Bowrie Boys. Buster had a long-suffering mother, a sister called Mary Jane, but his best friend was a dog called, Tige. Tige is thought to be the first animal to talk in a comic strip. Buster and his sister were drawn wearing strapped sandals and the hero had a tailored suit with short bloomer type trousers. A US shoe company, ironically called the Brown Shoe Company, were quick to see the market potential of Buster Brown. They bought the name rights from the artist and trademarked “Mary James.” Mary Janes were introduced to the public in 1904 during the St. Louis World's Fair. The company followed this up with a unique marketing promotion and sent performing midgets, each dressed as Buster and accompanied by a dog (Tige), to tour the US, promoting Buster Brown shoes and Mary Janes. Needless to say they were an instant success and still sell well today. The decision to market "Mary Janes" as a girl’s shoe style was due to the rising popularity of the Oxford style shoes for boys (and men) as the English Style prevailed. The era for unisex shoes for children was over and Mary Janes represents the first example of sexualised footwear for children based on commercialism.

( Shirley Temple Image via pinterest )

In the 30s the shoe style took a quantum leap in worldwide sales when Shirley Temple (1928 - 2014) wore them on screen with her dancing outfits. Not only did she make tap dancing popular with white populations she also established Mary Janes as the shoe style for little girl shoes. Her management missed no commercial opportunity and sold Shirley Temple, Mary Janes by the millions. Her original tap shoes from Curley Top (1935) are exhibited in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

(Video Courtesy: Damien Chemillé Published by Youtube Channel)


( Ruby Red Slippers Image via pinterest )

An interesting sociological comparison can be made between Dorothy's slippers from the Wizard of OZ and Mary Janes as worn by Shirley Temple. The former is symbolic of coming of age and the later the bastion of innocence.

Interesting Links
Petty Coat Discipline Quarterly
Pooh Corner
Richard Fenton Outcault (1863-1928)
The Brown Shoe Company

Reviewed 27/09/2021

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Blue Suede Shoes: The complete history

(Presley's Blue Sude Shoes Image via Daily Mail )

The most famous shoes of the rock and roll era were Carl Perkins's Blue Suede shoes. Although Elvis Presley had the big hit, credit was always given to Perkins. The idea for the song came from his early days when he and Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003) were in a food queue. Someone in front cried a warning to another not to trod on his foot. 'Hey don't step on my blue suede shoes".

( Xarol Perkins Image via pinterest)

Cash was moved to say to his companion that would be a good title for a song. Later, when Perkins (1932 – 1998) was playing in a dance hall he noticed one of the dancers gesticulating to his partner not to stand on his feet. The following morning, or so the story goes, he woke up with the song lyrics in his head and cleverly wrote them down. He recorded the song before Elvis (1935 – 1977) but a road accident prevented him from performing the hit. Presley meantime was in need of a successful follow-up to Heartbreak Hotel and took his version of 'Shoes' the top of the US charts.

(Video Courtesy: moviemagg by Youtube Channel)

The rest, as they say is history. Perkins did not personally wear blue suede shoes although Presley did own a pair. The King did wear lifts in his shoes to make him look taller and Buddy Holly (1936 – 1959) only wore brown or green suede shoes.

( Buddy Hollly's shoes Image via Heritage Auctions )

Had Carl Perkins not penned this tune and Elvis sang it then who knows what kind of world we would have today. The anthem was right and the image was as they say 'smoke'n'. The shoes united the world’s youth in rebellion but the shoe styles were quite different in the US from the UK and elsewhere. In American Blue Suede Shoes referred to quality brogues or ‘penny’ loafers worn by middle class preppies, whereas the Teddy boys in the UK; Halbstarke in Germany; and Blousans noirs in France wore crepe soled shoes which were like dessert boots on speed.

( Brothel Creepers Image viaNorthampton Museum )

These were cheap and crude shoes made specifically for the emerging youth market with soles more like platforms. The most critical thing about suede was prior to this time, suede was regarded as an effeminate medium previously worn only by lounge lizards and homosexuals. The appeal of brothel creepers lay in their deliberate crudeness. Leather or suede was sown into crepe sole, sometimes two inches thick. The name spells out the sexuality of the shoe. They were a celebration of unsubtle masculinity and were the working class equivalent of the desert boot. Originally worn by officers during the desert campaign in North Africa, the originals were suede bottees with crepe soles. The origins are blurred but it is thought Egyptian cobblers made the shoes for the soldiers. Most comfortable shoes the fashion was developed by Clarke's of England and became popular with the middle class smoothies after the war.

( Teddyboys Image via pinterest )

Teddy boys wore a modified dessert boot with a particularly thick crepe sole. Brothel creepers were as aggressive as desert boots were urbane. Worn originally with drapes and drainpipe trousers they were a variation of the sartorial style of Prince Edward, hence Teddy boys. An interesting innovation was the unconventional use of a boot lace, worn as a tie i.e. Slim Jims, this symbolically acknowledged the importance of 'Hillbilly Music' in the emerging music scene as well as flying in the convention of shirt and tie brigade. Dress codes became very important in public places like dance halls and pubs. All in all, the style was the right image for angry young men and made up the post war generation, which burst into life with the onset of Rock'n Roll. Roll over Beethoven as Chuck Berry sang in 1956. the young Chuck Berry invented his famous 'duck walk’ routine to distract the audiences attention from his wrinkled suit.

(Video Courtesy: mrzocoler by Youtube Channel)

Australian Bodgies were quite different again, combining both US & UK fashion with a hint of Italian they appeared in Spiv suits worn with pointy, white shoes. Later this was combined with crossover rockabilly crocodile skin shoes, especially worn with black satin shirts. Ironically the original sharpies of the 50s wore almost exactly the same gear and footwear as their grandfathers, who would be the first larrikins.

(The Bodgie Image via

Brothel creepers made a brief return in the mid 70s with the retro R’n’R Revival with UK bands like Mud, Showaddywaddy and Australians's Daddy Cool.

( Shawaddyaddy Image via BBC )

In reprise, they were neutered and no longer the sign of youthful rebellion rather a shade of their former glory and like the imitation crocodile and leopard skins, they became contrived bad taste.

(Video Courtesy: TOMMYPLANET RECORDS by Youtube Channel)


(Celebrity Style Image via pinterest )

Elvis Presely was only known to own one pair of blue suede shoes which were ordered for him after his 1956 version of the song topped the charts. He kept them for four years before giving them to his best man and roadie Joe Esposito during a wardrobe clear-out after returning from duty in the US Army in 1960. In 1994 they were bought by museum owner Chris Davidson who put them on display at his Elvis-A-Rama institution in Las Vegas. The size 10 brogues blue suede shoes went up for auction in Los Angeles and sold for around £53,000. during the sale by Julien's Auctions. The shoes come complete with blue laces and gold grommets. The highest bidder also received a 1956 letter from the manager of Presley's wardrobe supplier. It includes a request from Nudie's Rodeo Tailors for Presley's clothing and shoe sizes.

(Elvis Gold Image via pinterest )

Nudie Cohen also created Elvis's famous $10,000 gold lame suit, worn by the singer on the cover of his 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong album.

(Video Courtesy: Yelserp22 by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 26/09/2021

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Shoes 'r' Us: Psychosocial and psychosexual profile of shoes

(Sonja Bata Image via Toronto Star)

The word shoe (scoe) is Anglo-Saxon, meaning 'to cover furtively,’ and according to Rossi (1993) this is not in a protective sense but rather to hide an erogenous zone. Body parts play a key role in non verbal communication and may be decoded as cortically meaningful (Givens, 2002). Simply put shoes outwardly represent a non-verbal sign of gender, presence, and personality. According to Sonja Bata (founder of the Bata Shoe Museum , Toronto), "Shoes hold the key to human identity." They appear unparalleled in their ability to reveal the personality of the wearer. Many believe this is due to the encoded messages they contain which are recognised by our primal subconscious. Where this is most obvious perhaps is related to shoe choice and our psycho-sexual make up and personality. Mimi Pond described shoes as totems of disembodied lust, in some cases so strong as to magically transform us into beautiful, handsome, confident, or heroic persons. They appear true talisman and worthy of a fetishism. Today footwear communicates general values, personality traits, roles and goals. Our psychological, cultural and expression of our spirit are all well served by our footwear. They influence the way we think, feel, act as well as react to others, or so we are told? The author attempts to decipher the meaning of shoes and how they potentially reflect the personality of the wearer. This should not however, be seen as a precise science but merely an amusing illumination.

( Renaissance art Image via Reddit)

With the exception of hands and faces, clothing has an important social significance which tells much about the personality of the wearer. When observing strangers the sight of clothes provided the safest distance to judge friend or foe, with more intimate relationships dependent upon the finer facial features, body gestures and speech play. Seems clothing serves three more functions: decoration, modesty and protection. Whilst the latter may appear the most logical it is not supported by history (both ancient and modern). Fig leaf mentality may explain why we have covered up, but by far the major reason for clothing, is decoration. The essential purpose of decoration was to beautify bodily appearance in order to attract admiring glances from others thus fortify self-esteem. Modesty, on the other hand, makes us hide body parts in an attempt to refrain from drawing the attention of others. When decoration and modesty are pitted together this can provide a psychological conflict resulting in a clothing neurosis. The degree of harmony or compromise between these conflicting interests may be clearly seen in shoes.

( Coding Theories Image via University of Minnesota Duluth )

Does that mean feet are sex organs? Sadly no, but they do exhibit unique features which separate us from all other beings. We have a weight bearing heel, inside arch, and big toe which enabled the species to develop an upright stance and maintain it throughout the waking day. Sigmund Freud argued whatever the cause of walking the consequence was eye sight was perfected over the other senses. Bi-pedal gait forged distinguished buttocks (another human trait), bosoms; legs, thighs, tummies, hips and the frontal display of genitalia. We remain the only species on the planet who can copulate standing vertical and facing each other. Feet are extremely well supplied by nerve pathways which transmit messages to multiple and diverse areas of the brain, including the sensory parietal lobe. By coincidence the sensory centre for feet lies adjacent to the sensory nerves of the genitalia. This may explain, why for some people, neural print-through causes their feet to become sexually expressive.

( Fire Art Image via pinterest)

According to Harrold & Legg (1986) long before shoes became costume for all they formed a major part of ritual. From the beginning, human decoration celebrated procreation demonstratively directing the observer’s attention to gender. The theory of Displacement of Effect supports this and upholds when we covered up, the head and feet became gender symbols. Subsequently the greatest motive for wearing clothes was sexual. Not in the fig leaf sense (sinful) but to further enhance the attractiveness of the wearer in order to procreate the species. Another common use of decoration in primitive society was the display of trophies. People decorated and scarified their body to protect themselves from imaginary evil spirits. In primitive culture the victor carried mementos of the vanquished which would include their testicles. Strength and courage of the hunted animals were much admired by hunters and gatherers who wore hides in the hope to harness these attributes. This may well account why shoes were made from fish and animal skins. But it took until the technology was available for leathers to be tanned and treated before shoes could have a protective function. Once this took place the need to decorate the shoe for luck became a subtle craft. We see the remnants of this in modern shoes, such as brogue patterns; or tassels (testicles) on loafers. Carrying lucky talisman within the shoes has a long history which continues to this day with the Penny Loafer.

(Emperor Septimius Severus Image via pinterest )

Rank, occupation and wealth were also encoded into types of clothing. Unshod feet in Roman times was the mark of a slave or woman; only male citizens of the city had the right to wear sandals. Military station was depicted by the height of boot worn by the soldier and in Mediterranean society; elevated sandals were worn by sex workers. Remarkably basic shoe design remains unchanged from antiquity.

(Kirtle Sleeves Image via Rosalies Medievel Woman )

Fashionable footwear was always the prerogative of the ruling classes and definitely the preserve of men. This all started to change in the thirteenth century when returning Crusaders brought back with them the concept of chivalry. Europeans embraced the concept of ideal beauty through the medium of visual arts and literature and womens’costume began a reflective change. International trade had led to the growth of towns and enrichment of the Italian mercantile classes with a resulting rich bourgeoisie. The women of the nouveaux riche wanted to emulate the privileges of nobility and became focused on perfecting the female body through the medium of sumptuous clothing.

( Roy Rogers Image via pinterest)

According to Belk (2001) as consumers we appear to have an innate preference for products that not only function well, but also express themselves. Males are often more daring and naughty than their female counterparts in what they choose to wear. One theory why men use heavier apparel to create illusionary effects of masculinity and virility is because they have fewer erogenous qualities. Women on the other hand use less to highlight their natural erogenous features. According to the Non Verbal Dictionary female footwear shows personality and uniqueness (I am someone special). Male Footwear is part of a uniform to mark membership in a group (I am a cowboy).

(Antonio Marras at Milan Fashion Week Fall 2017 Image via pinterest )

Footwear suggests connection with terra firma "both feet on the ground". An elevated heel implies the ability to defy the Earth's gravity whereas four wheel drive shoes send quite a different message. According to the Non Verbal Dictionary, women's shoes can be classified into three general groups. Revealing shoes are 'bare all' shoes with the toes, heel, ankle and top of the foot all visible and calling attention to the frailty of the small delicate foot. Concealing shoes transmit a suggestive erotic message of tight containment. Both proclaim femininity, individuality and sexual allure.

(High Heeled Sandals Image via pinterest)

High heels make the frame appear more curvatious with bosoms and buttocks protruding and less accentuation on the waist. Increased height may appeal to the height challenged as well as giving an outward appearance of a smaller foot. To the less well endowed, added height from heels encourages an attractive boyish appearance, so enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians. Masking shoes, the third category, down plays personality by discouraging its notice. Often worn with socks, sensible shoes tend to be boxy, sturdy and squared off.

( Men's fashions Image via pinterest )

Gender specific footgear for men fall into three categories: dominant, submissive or neutral. Dominant shoes are robust, wide, thick soled and heavy. Submissive shoes are narrow, lightweight thin soles, with tapering toes. Gracile to suggest vulnerability with a deliberate down play of foot's size and bluntness. The neutral shoe is fashionably bland and introverted. It is neither wide nor narrow, neither pointed nor blunt. The sole is neither thick nor thin, nor is the shoe obviously masculine or feminine. Neutral shoes project non-rebellious non-dominant anti-corporate mood in the work place.

(Wooden Heels Image via pinterest)

Shoes can be divided into different design lines, which suit certain types of feet. The Classic line caters for the average foot with its emphasis on refinement, elegance and high fashion. These shoes are sleek, slightly chunky with smooth circle or geometric shapes but no angles. The Dramatic line is more suited to the narrow foot with its trim sleek and elegant lines and emphasis on angular shapes. Small feet are highlighted in the Romantic line with soft flowing lines that showcase foot contours. Detailed but lavish footwear. Moderate to large feet are often best in natural lines which are shoes sometimes chunky and always funky. The Gamin line favours moderate to narrow feet. Sharp, straight and crisp footwear designed in geometric and asymmetrical shapes, worn in colourful leathers and often with dark hosiery (sheer).

(William A Rossi Image via National Shoe Retailer Assoc )

According to Rossi (1993), there are eight basic styles i.e. the sandal, the monk, the moccasin, the mule, the clog, the pump, the boot and the lacing shoe.

( Espadrilles Image via pinterest )

Certainly one of the oldest and simplest forms of foot covering which date back many thousands of years. Stone Age sandals were a spontaneous invention, which helped protect vulnerable feet from alien environments. Later the spread of trade among Mediterranean countries accounts why sandals became associated with affluence but it took until the Romans before they became robust footwear, worn by the army. The trade of sandal making was almost lost after the Fall of the Roman Empire and only rediscovered in the early twentieth century when the heeled sandal was associated with Hollywood’s sirens. Now considered the sexiest shoe women can wear, the 'venez y voir' or come hither look is further enhanced with backless or slings back designs. All in an endeavour to catch 'back interest', that is admiring glances from suitable suitors whose eyes are transfixed on the beauty even after she has passed by. Sexy sandals are subtly erotic whereas bitchy sandals are flagrantly sexual (Jayne Mansfield). Women wearing the former are trying to convey a message, which says they want to be noticed and admired as feminine and sensuous women. According to Eisman (2002), today's male thong wearers may appear crude but beneath this veneer lurks a gentle, wounded soul. Dreamers and hopeless romantics choose Jesus sandals to represent their soulful and gentle personalities. Rough and ready types wear sport sandals similar in the way suburban dwellers drive four wheel vehicles. New Age self assured types exude their inner comfort by choosing reflexology sandals.

( Double Monk Image via Leonardo Shoes)

The Monk
The monk refers to the wide strap across the instep, which is attached to a buckle. The shoe was worn originally by Alpine monks in the 15th century and later caught a fashion following when ornate buckles took on the guise of shoe jewellery. Wearing them was a mark of prosperity and once again the prerogative of men. After the French Revolution, highly decorated shoes indicated social status and buckles soon became passé as the fashion for boots took over. Buckles meantime became popular with women's shoes. Today they survive in the most mundane form as fastenings for sandals and casual shoes worn by men and children. The monk style of shoe remains a male preserve and is worn by non conventional types assured in their mind their alternative retaining medium is an able match to the more predicable lacing persona. Men who wear peacock buckles are less sexually aggressive, more flamboyant, brazen, and ostentatious. Insecure types with a driving need for personality identity. However don't be fooled the flash exterior is superficial and under the surface lies a soft caring side to their nature, according to Eisman (2002).

( Cheyenne Moccasins Image via pinterest )

By far the oldest shoe, dating back 15,000 years. Mongol tribes who migrated across the Bearing Straight 9 (circa 30,000 BCE) probably wore a simple wrap around hide held on with rawhide thongs. More associated with tribes of North American Indians who lived on the Ottawa River near the northern tributaries of the St. Lawrence River moccasins were stylised with fringes and coloured beads. Each tribe had their own distinctive style and decoration, much of which would depict rank and occupation. Today moccasin shoes usually describe imitation moccasins, which had their origins in Norway. The Norwegian Peasant Slip-on (or weejun) was first imported to the US by tourists in the 1930s. When Gucci made leather loafers in refined calfskin with a metal snaffle across the instep this had instant appeal. Slick, successful sophisticates flocked to wear them. The Rolls Royce of shoes celebrated craftsmanship, grooming and conformity but with just a hint of excitement. This was often expressed latently in the snaffle design. A two tassel ornamentation was common and is thought the represent symbolic testicles found in many native customs. A gold chain had obvious sado masochistic association and would be worn by domineering types. Soon loafers were available in spectator style (two colours) and by the 50s, Penny Loafers became all the rage with the campus based Ivy Leaguers of the US. Here the testicles were replaced with a lucky penny, which was incorporated in the snaffle. Popular with Hooray Henries of the time, the shoes were full of potential and excitement, in truth of course the shoe style represented no change and security rather than adventure, hence the lucky penny. When low vamp loafers were designed for females and made in soft kid leather they guaranteed successful cross over. College kids wore suede loafers, which was the source of inspiration for blue suede shoes. Imitation moccasins are sensuous shoes, typified by the stylised flair, slightly feminine but overtly masculine, these shoes are preferred by the lounge lizard who is both vain and domineering. Charmers with intoxicating personality the shoe's exaggerated proportions and adornments give a clue to the wearer's true persona. On the positive side moccasin wearers value quality over trends and exude a relaxed elegance that is timeless and very alluring. These people are confident and comfortable to be with. They enjoy looking cool and revel in the good life. Beware bad lots who are attracted to square toed loafers these fellows suffer illusions of grandeur are often brash and certainly preoccupied with cash. Loafers for women are conservative or neuter shoes i.e. neither sex-attractive nor sex-distractive. Neuter shoes reflect a quiescent or semi-active libido preferred by middle aged married women.

(Wooden Clogs Image via

Clogs describe wooden soled shoes traditionally worn by peasants and more recently associated with Scandinavia. Two basic types are the sabot (or wooden shoe) and the more fashionable clog (wooden soled shoe with a leather upper). Clog wearers are considered complex and intriguing characters usually cool types with a strange and difficult past that will leave you better for knowing him. One clog devotee is Brian May of Queen. Once a cloggie then always a cloggie, or so it seems. Many men are turned onto clogs by seeing well turned ladies wearing them. Some are even attracted to the noise the clog makes. Hence there are a lot of closet clog wearers out there.

(Mens Boots Image via pinterest )

Originally these were shoes with wrap around leggings and date back approximately 4.5thousand years. Later when the leather leggings resembled a bucket, the French called then 'butt' meaning water bucket. These evolved in boute and finally boot. Over the centuries boots have undergone many changes and been gendered for their troubles. Boots as a fashion invariably follow war and represent coping with threat. Certainly the most contrived style is cowboy boots which have little to do with real Wild West and more to do with urban macho wannabes. The cowboy boot invokes heroic myth of the west, which promulgates rugged individualism, independence, quiet strength, and alienation from civilisation. According to the Non Verbal Dictionary they are a sign of authority and suggest strength by adding stature and stability. A boot's snug contact with pressure sensitive Pacinian corpuscles of the lower leg provides tactile reassurance while supporting the long tendons that run to the feet. Boots stabilise the ankle. Research has shown women find men in cowboy boots more attractive. Highly decorated boots express the gentler feminine side of the narcissistic wearer who may be rather superficial but always entertaining, if only for a short time. Boots with pointed toes indicate intense ambition. Whilst the suave and sophisticated sharpie may give out assured confidence and good humour that is as much as you are likely to get from them. The fashion for sharp toes can be traced to the resurgence of paganism and in particular a celebration of Pryapus. Men challenged by the absence of height prefer high heels. Wearers of biker's boots appear control freaks. No surprise there. This who sport elasticised boots may be free spirits who enjoy the simple comforts in life. Modern guys prefer the Yellow Suede, Hiking Boots, suppressed machismo, emaciated by modern day domesticity. Most will lack adventure in their lives but have four wheel boots to show they are ready (if not always willing). Doc Martens lacing boots are the mark of natural loners who may not seek close relationships. Many have leadership qualities with total commitment to passionate causes. The physiological benefits of boots may give the feeling of security on the street. According to Australian journalist, Jane Fraser, Ugg boot (sheepskin boot) is to the foot what Vegemite is to the tongue, what maroon is to a Queenslander, what 'haitch' is to a Catholic. What she might be surprised to learn is elsewhere in the global village creative souls designed for success but tired of convention, wear Ugg Boots. This makes them a personality, which is both unpredictable and capable of the unexpected. The fashion boot without doubt has given liberated women freedom style and support. Not to mention a lot of pleasure to men.

(Block Heel Pumps Image via pinterest)

Pumps (Court Shoes)
The plain seamless pump started life as a heel-less shoe worn indoors. It was a slip on which did not extend beyond or above the vamp and quarter top lines, held onto the foot without a fastening, although later a wrap around strap like a ballet slipper was used. In the UK the pump was known as a court shoe. By the nineteenth century the slip on pump had become sophisticated worn by both men and women. A low front pump deliberately tantalised by exposing suggestive toe cleavage. When dandy Count D'Orsay introduced a pump style which was low cut on the sides to expose the curve of the long arch and the sinuous movements of the foot the shoe took on extra sensual components. The sensual trifecta was completed with the addition of higher heels. By the thirties daytime shoes were neat and feminine-looking with oval toes and straight, high heels. The classic court shoe was an everyday basic but the new look slender heeled sandals with ankle and T straps in reptile skins, soft kid, and suede and satin were very much the desire of most. Shoes were immaculately presented matt fabrics were always well brushed and leather buffed to a high gloss. Strappy designs were more evident in the more elegant evening shoes. The straps were sometimes plaited or made of satin ribbon and crossed over like ballet pumps. Other styles were dotted with glitter and fastened with fancy gold, silver or diamante buckles. The sides and heels of the shoes were sometimes decorated with tiny gold flecks or diamante tips. Gold and silver 'Charleston' sandals were very popular and a ready accessory for evening wear. Other shoes were covered with fabric to match a particular dress; alternatively dresses in plain velvet satin or chiffon were worn with patterned shoes, making pretty high-heeled sandals covered in eye-catching, glittering brocade. Hollywood loved two types of women's shoes i.e. the high heeled pump which always looked glamorous despite its inappropriateness to the many action scenes the heroines were depicted wearing them; and the thin strappy sandal as worn by Hayworth, Garbo and Davis represented a willing partner to seduction.Screen beauties rarely abandoned these stereotypical props and when they did it became a memorable event. Being filmed in anything else could only add further charm to their existing persona.

(Chopines Image via

The origins of heeled shoes probably came from shepherds tending their flocks on steep mountainous country in Pre Hellenic Times. As trade spread across the Mediterranean the elevated sandal became a fashion vogue for rich and powerful men. Later elevated shoes were worn by actors and streetwalkers. The fashion heel for women ironically came in the sixteenth century after a short fling with platform shoes. Chopines were worn by Venetian women of substance both to celebrate the leg as well as (and probably more importantly) to display the sumptuous clothing of the times. Reported falls (or miscarriage) in pregnant women meant the platform was banned but cleaver shoemakers cored out the section of the platform corresponding to the ball of the foot. Ironically by stabilising the foot they created the first orthopaedic footwear or high-heeled shoe. Despite this the heeled shoe we know today could not have been made in the past, prior to developed lasting techniques used for mass production at the turn of the 19th century. Once heeled shoes became passé for fashionable women the style was still enjoyed by female sex workers, even after the Revolution. So popular was the style for heels among sex workers the French girls that immigrated to the US continued to wear them much to the delight of full blooded all American Males. Soon after the first US heel factory was opened. With the introduction of Hollywood came the need to depict visually heroes and villains, clothing took on a special meaning especially with improved cinema photography and the full body shot. Clothing stereo types included shoes where the heeled sandal represents the modern-day, Jezebel. This image was forever frozen with the introduction of the stiletto in the early fifties, which happened to correspond for many with the beginnings of a post war permissive age. High heels are seen as a rite of passage from girl to women. Blisters and sprains worn with pride in a similar manner to nickel allergies.

( 17th century shoes Image via pinterest )

Lacing Shoe
Lacing shoes were introduced in the seventeenth century in England. At first they were thought to be rather effeminate but later took a fashion hold when fops at Oxford University wore them in the eighteenth century. The Oxford shoe became a foot corset designed to highlight the curves of men's feet. Worn tight to the foot the shoes were smaller than the foot and always with a heel. This meant the man minced which became accepted norm for real me. Corn cutting became a popular service during this time. It took until the nineteenth century before the fashion crossed the Atlantic and came with English invasion. This movement would influence adult costume for the next half a century. To accommodate broader feet, Bluchers were adopted and lacing shoes become synonymous with conservative dress attire for both men and women. Patent Leather was developed in the thirties as a waterproof material for shoes. Now solid dependable types, stalwarts of community, wore lacing shoes. Not without its irony and despite their origins lacing shoes are classified as eunuch shoe for men, and sexless or comfortable footwear for women. The later is a euphemism for lesbianism. According to Rossi people who wear lacing shoes wish to voluntarily withdraw from natural concerns of sexual attraction e.g. funeral directors, paramedics, and nurses. Non conformists may wear brogue patterns or two-tone uppers indicating a psychosexual masquerade with the masculine costume smothering the peacock inside. Jack Kennedy was a man who preferred high fashion in footwear but conformed for his public image. Neuter shoes are neither sexy nor sexless neither fashionable nor non-fashionable. They exhibit a glimmer of promise at first inspection, but on a closer look are found wanting, i.e. a eunuch like quality. A conservative fashion with medium to low heel, semi-rounded toe, closed rather than open toe box. The colour subdued, the materials conventional and the ornamentation, if any, minimal. Passive styles for psychosexually passive people (Rossi, 1993).

( Liverpool Rubber Co Images via Graces Guide )

The sandshoe which is a canvas Oxford was an invention of the 19th century and although had humble beginnings without doubt heralded the beginning of the most popular footwear of existence. Middle class preoccupation with sport and recreation meant sport kits included dedicated sports shoes. BY the middle of the 20th century they became the icons of youth. Lacing shoes with attitude have become inseparable from youthful rebellion. Sport shoes are now perceived an essential part of ritual garb associated with both the best of being human as well as its darker side. From the time Jimmy Dean endorsed coolness, when he was photographed wearing tennis sneakers to MC Hammer rapped praise on his Adidas sneakers, the sporting Oxford has ruled supreme. People who wear sneakers are not too concerned with their looks but do prize comfort and security over anything else. Wearers of designer trainers are probably ambitious, motivated and driven in all their endeavours. Their materialistic outlook and competitive nature however puts them under enormous internal pressures. The carefree casual appearance of those wearing bowling shoes (a leather top hybred) belies a passionate conversationalist who is intensely romantic. These people are often well travelled and strongly opinionated. Traditionalists too self-conscious to be really cool, wear running shoes. These people are not part of the 'in crowd' but would dearly love to be. Large size, bold contrasts, and loud colours suggest youth and physical fitness. Often more theoretical than actual. Identification with team.

( Mules Image via pinterest)

The Mule
Mules or slip shoes started as heel-less, quarterless slippers worn in Elizabethan times. Later they became associated with the boudoir and are the ancestors of bedroom slippers, and worn by women of distinction. Richly endowed with silk and velvet these were often heavily bejewelled or highly decorated. During the nineteenth century when Manet's painting of Olympia was revealed to the public it caused a riot. The reclining courtesan was seen playfully holding her foot half in and out of her mules. The implications were obvious to all. The shoe has enjoyed a recent renaissance with Ath Leisure and has become more popular in the US, post '11/09'. Realisation the shoe could be a weapon, combined with widely broadcast images of discarded shoes left behind as people tried to escape falling masonry had a major impact. Increased security associated with travel, especially by air, has given the mule a new lease of life. The shoe is worn by pragmatists, people who enjoy comfort as well as fashion.

( Loafers Image via Postmark)

Sensible Footwear
Sensible shoes are considered sexless, stripped of illusion and sexual promise. Neither do they seek sexual communication, nor do they receive any. They are shoes without personality and often worn through necessity. Sensible shoes are sterelotypically seen in service personnel, and might be a term used to describe orthopaedic footwear. Sensible footwear as a description first appeared in the thirties and was used to describe anti-fashion footwear which incorporated styles deemed inappropriate for a Western World preoccupied with Physical Culture. Today the term 'sensible shoes' is often used as a derogatory term by heterosexuals to describe lesbians.

(Barefoot Image via pinterest )

Before the rebellion of 1745, the Celtic population (of Scotland and Ireland) went barefoot all year round. Either sex, rich or poor prided themselves on going barefoot as if a sense of national pride. Sassenachs were considered less hardy because they wore shoes. Scots and Irish settlers to the colonies continued to go barefoot until the end of the 18th century. It is still very much in living memory that children and adults went barefoot in Australia not because of adversity but because it was second nature. Times are a changing however and intense fear of low socio-economic groups mean going barefoot today is not encouraged by private owners of public spaces. Hence people who continue to do so have made a life style choice which often alienates them from society. Most appear in perfect peace with themselves, refreshingly relaxed and content with the simple pleasures of life.

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Reviewed 23/09/2021

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Walk tall, walk safe and put comfort first

(Skeleton Fashion via pinterest)

Always have the feet measured and fitted to the shoes as unnecessary movement or crushing in a shoe can cause damage and discomfort. Properly fitted shoes should never require to be 'broken in' and correctly fitted shoes should be problem free. Wherever possible have your feet professionally measured.

(X Ray Image via iStock)

Most fashion shoes today are bought either on the net or off the shelf in self service stores. Reputable on line retailers will have easy ways to follow instructions on how to gauge size and fit and these should be carefully followed for best results. Few face to face high street retailers enploy ship fitters these days and you can expect to get the closest fit the retailer has currently in stock. This may not be a perfect match to your foot size and shape. A simple way to help get a better fitting is to use a paper footprint template. Before leaving home stand on a piece of paper with bare feet then get someone to draw around each foot. Carefully cut out the templates and in the shoe shop use each template to test for fit. Any signs of crushing or folding would suggest an inappropraite fit.

( Paper Template Image via Anya's Reviews)

The correct heel height varies with several factors depending on style of the shoe; the shape of your foot; and how tall you are. Opt only to wear high heels of an appropriate height. A good way to determine this is to stand straight up in your bare feet and lift as high up onto your toes as far as you can without causing pain or over balancing. You may require assistance. The distance the heel lifts from the ground is an indication of optimal heel height you can comfortably wear. For example if the heel is 1.5" (4 cm) a shoe with a higher heel would be inappropriate for you.

( Heel height Image via ShutterStock)

Heels need to support body weight and the narrower the heel-base (i.e. stilettos) the less ground contact. This means body mass at heel strike is spread over a small area and generates peak pressures equivolent to a ballet dancer pirouetting on tip toe. The broader the heel base the greater stability it gives with each step. Higher heels generally are not recommended to be worn for long periods of standing, walking or other activites. Well worn (much loved) shoes can become unstable and so it makes sense to have several pairs. Pays dividends too, always to have your favourite shoes repaired regularly. Off the peg shoe-cumfort products like heel grips or gel inserts etc. may give temporary comfort only as nothing substitutes for a good fitting shoe. Personal footcare is essential an any cuts or lesions on the feet should be attended to quickly.

( Foot Care Image via pinterest)

To the uninitiated walking in heels requires practice if deportment and grace are the desired outcomes. Hold your head up and stand straight when walking in high heels. Don't ignore warnings and as soon as the heels hurt take the shoes off and give them a rest. Always have a backup plan with handbag slippers to the ready. Always put comfort first, only wear high heels for short periods and if you have problems in high heels choose another shoe style.

(Video Courtesy: Mia Matayoshi by Youtube Channel)

Kinetic studies have shown elevated heels can increase mechanical advantage or push-off power (ankle plantarflexion) during walking. There also appear to be significant biomechanical compensations in the pelvic region to counter balance any critical alteration on the centre of gravity of the body caused by wearing high heels. The same mechanism is seen in pregnancy when there is a marked increase in body mass causing changes in deportment. Studies from Oxford University have shown no evidence to support cafe belle footwear (high heels) does lasting harm to the knees. When Harvard Medical School compared “knee torque" of high-heel wearers to low heel wearers they discovered the latter had greater torque across the knee. Heel height and knee torque alone however, does not account for added wear and tear (osteo-arthrosis) but all parties agreed, heel height may be one possible contributory factor in those people prone to osteoarthritis. Studies here in Australia, have shown close co-relation between heel height and balance in older populations and this may contribute to falls in some older adults. Other studies from Italy have suggested wearing higher heels can improve continence training by increasing pelvic floor tone. Now these are small studies but none the less their findings are no less than legitimate as those oft cited to support the argument high heels are detrimental. In truth the jury is still out.

In the absence of independent evidence, the health risks of wearing high heeled shoes per se is overstated. Complications arise from the limited research available because most studies involve static analysis; small study groups and research from sponsored sources. The body is kinetic (moving and three dimensional) and not static, hence other compensatory mechanisms may play a role which help prevent universal outcomes for everyone. Published studies tend to involve small numbers and are rarely repeated which makes it difficult to put much store by their findings. Finally, many studies are sponsored and or conducted by interest groups with a vested interest in the outcome. This makes it problematic to co-relate study findings and ill advised to extrapolate to the general population. This does not stop it from happening and no one can refute prolonged wearing of footwear unfit for purpose or ill-fitting will increase the risk of a critical incident but high heels are not necessary the primary cause of major injuries in the vast majority of cases. Often people presenting at A & E DEpartments after a traumatic incident involving high heels have high blood alcohol levles and or are under the influence of chemical substances. Sobering thought.

Reviewed 15/09/2021